America’s top nine gay DJs
Burning up the dance floors in 2009
Published Thursday, 19-Feb-2009 in issue 1104
There are more DJs than ever in 2009 – 150,000 and counting if you believe the international DJ registry. It seems these days, any guy or girl with a headset, mixer and an iPod can call him- or herself a DJ.
But there is more to being a star DJ than just hitting the play button on a stereo. You need to be a master in track selection, own technical skills, spark creativity, be consistent, and most important: You have to be able to pack a dance floor.
The mix masters on this year’s Top Nine not only meet all the criteria – they excel it. That’s why they’re ranked above the 149, 991 other so-called DJs as the best of the gay dance floor. Here they are in descending order of gay … er … greatness.
Wayne G rose to prominence as the original headliner of London’s “Heaven” nightclub, but it’s his sea-gig aboard Atlantis Cruises that most gay fans know him for. Circuit crowds also hail him for spinning gay super events including Sydney Mardi Gras, Berlin Love Parade, Folsom St Fair, and Fire Island’s Pines Party.
A talented producer, Wayne G has remixed for the likes of Cher, Christina Aguilera, and Celine Dion – but don’t call him a commercial DJ. He eschews being categorized in any one particular genre. He weaves house, anthemic vocal tribal, and Latin-flavored percussion to create a melodic, high-energy journey all his own. You can get a taste of it in his new remix compilation album, Move: Atlantis Dance 2009 (Silver Label), in stores now.
Alyson Calagna admits she doesn’t play by the rules. She spins a wide variety of music from pop to electro, some tribal and even funky house. Her love of beats and her passion for making people feel alive on the dance floor have made Alyson one of the most in-demand DJs on today’s dance floors.
Last year, Alyson’s career reached an important pinnacle when she headlined Arabian Nights at Disney’s One Mighty Party event. The exposure rocketed her to the top of the DJ pool, landing her even more gigs. In fact, in the first quarter of 2009, Calagna will be appearing in 12 international cities, an impressive feat in these tough economic times.
Scotty refuses to take himself too seriously, and that’s endeared him to fans around the world. Sure, guys lust for his bod, but they yearn his for his beats too – and enthusiasts call Scotty a saviour from the boring, self-important circuit DJs of yore.
“I’m not afraid to take risks,” explains Thompson. He differentiates himself from other DJs both in approach – mixing on the fly, layering tracks on top of one another – and in content: He refuses to constrain himself to strict genre boundaries. He also strives to offer the circuit crowd something different. He plays a diverse array of House, Electro, Vocal and Tribal sounds.
“You don’t always have to listen to Beyoncé,” laughs Scott. “There are other names in dance music, people.”
If you haven’t heard of Seth Gold, it probably means you’re over 30. If you’re in your 20s, well then, kid, you need to get out more.
In fact, two years ago both Out Magazine and Instinct Magazine heralded Seth Gold as the next “It” DJ. Last year, Genre Magazine named him “America’s Hottest DJ”.
It’s not just because of his good looks. Gold has something most other DJs don’t – the ear of the young gay crowd. His previous US tours –“The Varsity Tour,” “The Black Out Tour” and last year’s “Spring Break Tour” – were smash hits with newbie gays. This year, Gold embarks on “The Knock Out Tour,” featuring mainstream wrestling stars. It’s sure to be another big gay hit with the kiddies – and may score the young DJ some international gigs.
Gay club goers literally crawl out of the woodwork for a chance to hear Tony Moran play. For sure, he’s a true rarity in the industry. Few can say they’ve stood in the sound booth with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson and the late Luther Vandross.
Moran hit a milestone this year, clocking in two decades in the dance world. He may be older than most of the other top DJs on the gay dance floor, but he is also wiser. He predicts a shift in the gay party scene.
“Twenty years ago, gay partiers let loose in small bars. Then the late 90s were all about big rooms. Now, gay partiers are shaking their groove things aboard enormous, lavish cruises. The venues change, but the party remains the same.”
While many top DJs complain of the lull in today’s dance scene – arguing that the crowds are waning and that clubs are not investing enough money in parties – Escape says the gay club land is actually experiencing a resurgence.
“The scene is more fun than ever,” he says. “All of a sudden, the industry is back to high-energy, happy music. The dark, monotonous beats that took over dance floors at the start of 2000 are history.”
In addition to his DJing gigs, Escape is one of the most sought-after remixers on gay dance floors today. His remixes of Kristine W’s “Never” and Sarah Altereth’s “It Doesn’t Take Much” are among the most popular mixes in clubs right now. But it’s his remixes of Beyoncé that are really getting all the single ladies’ hands up.
They say that legends are made, not born. And after years of making the beats, playing the clubs and producing the names that have kept club-goers partying for years, Junior Vasquez can easily count himself a legend.
But that doesn’t mean it’s time to count him out. Twenty years after he started his meteoric rise to international fame and invented the notion of the superstar DJ, papa’s got a brand new bag of tricks up his vinyl sleeve. “When I look back at my discography, even I’m impressed,” admits Vasquez with a laugh. Indeed, he’s worked with countless divas including Whitney Houston, Cher and Britney. He’s also one of the few people out there to piss off Madonna… and Live to Tell about it.
“I like being controversial,” he says. “I’ll keep doing whatever I can get away with, because if you don’t cross boundaries, you don’t get attention.”
If any DJ understands the pulse of New York City, it’s Hector Fonseca. With his residency at New York’s hottest Saturday-night party, his Billboard-climbing remixes, and his new album New York Club Anthems Volume 3 (Star 69 Records) flying off music store shelves, Hector Fonseca has proven he commands the sound of New York City.
“The New York club scene has experienced significant changes in the past few years,” explains Fonseca. “We are reclaiming New York as the epicenter of the world’s dance scene. Still, due to my frequent tour travels, I am heavily influenced by European beats, and I feature those sounds in my sets too.”
Fonseca is signed to the Star 69 music label, founded by superstar DJ Peter Rauhofer. In fact, Fonseca names Rauhofer as his DJ mentor – and it shows.
Tracy Young scores the top spot for ’09! In between her gigs at the world’s best gay parties, Young spins for celebs like Lenny Kravitz, The Smashing Pumpkins, Sean “Puffy” Combs and Russell Simmons. She is most famously connected with the Material Girl, who has personally called on Young to spin at her movie premieres, CD release parties, and even her wedding.
Tracy has nine music CDs under her belt including her latest – and, in our opinion, her greatest – Genesis, which celebrates her highly praised annual New Years day event in Miami.
Young has been a top-five DJ since 2000. She was ranked alongside the original super DJs Manny Lehman, Tony Moran, Vasquez and Peter Rauhoffer. But where the other giants have seen their stars fall, Young’s has continued to rise. 2009 is indeed the year of the woman!